Tamara Krawchenko talks about women and representation in politics


According to the United Nations, women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. However, UN data shows that women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making worldwide.

The University of Victoria and Equal Voice have partnered to host two events designed to address gender disparities in political leadership—a panel discussion on Feb. 26, including former federal cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, MLA Grace Lore, and BC Attorney General Niki Sharma, and a Campaign School on Feb. 25 for those considering running for public office. (Register for both events here.)

Tamara Krawchenko (pictured below) is an assistant professor in the School of Public Administration and chair of the Local Governance Hub. Krawchenko, who is part of the organizing committee for Women Leading Change in Politics, talks to us about the initiative’s importance and her hopes for the future of women in politics.

Why are events such as Women Leading Change needed?

Women are still underrepresented in politics. Provincially, 42.5 percent of the 87 seats in our Legislature are held by women. Figures from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities indicate that the share of locally elected female politicians is even lower, at just 31 per cent nationally. All to say, while progress has been made, women remain underrepresented in politics, especially in senior leadership roles.

The Campaign School and Women Leading Change panel will provide training, mentorship, networking and importantly, inspiration for women and other under-represented groups to get into politics and take on leadership roles where they can make a real difference in their communities. The Campaign School in particular will give those participating a fantastic opportunity to develop a mock campaign, navigate media, mobilize a tea, and fundraise—all key skills for future leaders!

Tamara Krawchenko

Can you tell us about your role in Campaign School and Women Leading Change event and how it relates to your role in Public Administration? 

The Local Governance Hub at the School of Public Administration works with local and regional governments, First Nations governments and organizations, community groups and a wide range of professionals to support their capacity building and development goals.

We are thrilled to partner with UVic’s Office of Community and Government Relations, the NGO Equal Voice and others to deliver the Campaign School and panel on Women Leading Change in Politics with an outstanding roster of speakers.

What can we expect from the Women Leading Change panel?

The decision to run for office at any level is a deeply personal one and it’s not a decision we make alone. We think about how it will impact our friends and families, how it will impact our wellbeing and balance these things against the drive to be impactful and make a difference in the world.  

The Women Leading Change panel convenes change makers who will share their personal experiences navigating the political landscape. I’m really looking forward to these frank conversations and to get a sense of what it takes to run for office.

What are your hopes for the future when it comes to women in politics?

My hope for the future is that women and all others who are presently underrepresented in politics gain representation, including in key leadership positions and that it’s a welcoming place. Critique and debate are part and parcel of politics. But we’ve seen growing polarization, and oftentimes toxic behaviour. We should be engaging in ideas and community betterment. It’s not just about having representation in politics but hopefully, a future where those who have been underrepresented really want to be there and can flourish.

Visit Women Leading Change on UVic's website.